van Klink takes Classic Rally of Otago victory
Mazda RX7 driver Marcus van Klink has become the first non-Escort driver to win the Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally of Otago since 2008, taking a 34.4 second victory in the 2012 event.
The winner of the past three years, Derek Ayson, held a commanding one minute lead heading into the penultimate stage, but he punctured a tyre on his Ford Escort, relegating him to an eventual fifth place.
van Klink and his co-driver, David Neill, didn't have a trouble-free run
in the three day event, but they were in front when it counted and took
a memorable victory.
Ayson's troubles enabled former Australian Rally Champions, Geoff
Portman and Ross Runnalls, to take the runners-up position in their Ford
Escort RS1800, moving ahead of local favourite Duncan McCrostie on the
McCrostie was hoping to keep ahead of the Australian, however
last-minute mechanical problems with his Nissan Bluebird put paid to
A punctured tyre also cost Hayden Paddon victory. The reigning
Production World Rally Champion had built up a 90 second lead on day
two, but lost over seven minutes with a flat rear tyre. A committed
drive over the final day saw Paddon recover to fourth place, 37 seconds
ahead of a disappointed Ayson.
Perfect weather conditions greeted competitors on the final day for the
last six stages. With 130km of competitive driving, it was always going
to be hard, and so it proved.
Mike Townshend took sixth place after a great drive in his Toyota
Corolla, with Dunedin's Mark Laughton finishing seventh in his
V8-engined Hillman Avenger, and finishing as the first driver not using
Another Aussie, Grant Walker (Ford Escort), took eight, Deborah Kibble
was ninth in a Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo, with Miles McElwain rounding out
the top 10 in his Corolla AE86.
Welsh driver, Gwyndaf Evans, had another difficult day in his Ford
Escort RS1800. With former World Champion Phil Mills in the co-driver's
seat, the pair had a troubled event, but pressed on regardless.
Although they finished outside top 10, they both enjoyed the event and
hope to return to the Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally
of Otago in the future.
Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally of Otago
1. Marcus van Klink / David Neill, Mazda RX7, 2h52m25.3s
3. Geoff Portman / Ross Runnalls, Ford Escort RS1800, +34.4s
3. Duncan McCrostie / Andrew Graves, Nissan Bluebird, +2m03.8s
4. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard, Ford Escort RS1800, +3m43.7s
5. Derek Ayson / Greg Scott, Ford Escort, +4m21.0s
6. Mike Townshend / Gareth Spence, Toyota Corolla AE86, +10m45.4s
Photos by Peter Whitten